Unfinished business

By Jay CoffinSeptember 23, 2011, 7:21 pm

DUNSANY, Ireland – Europe may have lost another Solheim Cup on Friday with its inability to seal the deal.

Sure, captain Alison Nicholas was pleased that her team has a 4 1/2 to 3 1/2 advantage after the opening day. Leading, after all, is better than trailing. But Europe easily could have had a crushing 7-1 lead going into Saturday.

On a chilly opening day, Europe showed plenty of fight, but no ability to finish. Leaderboards that were blue most of the day often turned to red by the end of each session.

The Europeans chose to focus on the positive.

“Our goal is to win every day,” said Suzann Pettersen, who won both of her matches for Europe but will sit out the Saturday morning foursomes. “We won today.”

Said Nicholas: “They fought hard and with passion. You can’t change anything.”

A team that expects to win can’t do the things Europe did. There were shanks, skulls, chunks and flubs at the most inopportune times, sometimes twice on the same hole. If you followed the LPGA for a year you wouldn’t see the errors that were made by Europe over the 36-hole marathon day.

The morning foursomes ended 2-2, but were 3-1 in Europe’s favor for most of the session. Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome were 2 down after 14 holes, then won three of the last four holes to defeat Melissa Reid and Karen Stupples, who chunked a chip shot on the 18th hole, handing the Americans the full point.

“I’m gutted that I didn’t pull that shot off when I needed to,” Stupples said.

The afternoon was more of the same. Europe easily won Match 3 in the afternoon when Sophie Gustafson and Caroline Hedwall thumped Lincicome and Vicky Hurst, 5 and 4. Shortly after that match ended Europe had the lead in all three other matches, foreshadowing a possible fourball sweep.

Momentum turned quickly when Christina Kim made an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole in her match with the much-criticized Ryann O’Toole against Catriona Matthew and Sandra Gal. Moments later Creamer made a 12-footer for birdie to get back to level with Morgan Pressel against Laura Davies and Melissa Reid.

Pressel then made the putt of the day on 18, a 25-footer for birdie, allowing the Americans to steal the match for the full point. Shortly thereafter Kim and O’Toole salvaged a halve.

“Knowing all these Americans, they’re always managing to turn it around and sneak in a point here and there,” Pettersen said.

That’s because the Europeans often let them.

The Europeans are already frustrated by the perceptions created by American wins in the past three Solheim Cups. Those perceptions affect not only them, but the competition itself. If Europe loses again this week and comes to Colorado Golf Club for the 2013 matches without having won in a decade, how much interest will there be?

The frustration is evident in the faces of the Europeans. They're tired of all the questions regarding their apparent lack of competitive fire. They’re insulted that some don’t feel they're worthy of being in this competition, and they’re sick of hearing that Asia should become part of this 21-year tradition.

U.S. captain Rosie Jones is understandably concerned only with her own team. “I can’t give these girls enough credit for digging it out when they really needed to,” she said. “With a lot of heart my team came back.”

With a whole lot of help, too.

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Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

• “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

• "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

• "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

• “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

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Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.

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Bogey-free Moore shares Valero lead

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Amid the swirling winds on a difficult track at the Valero Texas Open, Ryan Moore has yet to blink.

Moore was one of only two players among the 156-man field to go bogey-free during the opening round at TPC San Antonio, and he's now the only player still boasting a clean scorecard after a second-round 67 that included five birdies and the rest pars. At 9 under, the veteran shares the lead with Zach Johnson and was three shots clear of any other player at the end of the morning wave.

"Really, around this golf course what matters is the right distance," Moore told reporters. "You can get in some pretty tough spots if you're long and short. So I kind of hit it the right distance all day, gave myself plenty of good birdie opportunities and didn't stress myself out too much with too many up-and-downs."

While many players struggle to find a true offseason, Moore took nearly three months off between starts at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Waste Management Phoenix Open. During that time he shed nearly 20 pounds thanks to changes to his diet and teamed up with a new swing coach, Drew Steckel, in December.

The results have been solid if not spectacular, as Moore tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished T-16 last week at the RBC Heritage.

"It's been solid golf, especially the last few weeks. I haven't got a ton out of it," Moore said. "The putter just wasn't there. So this week, just got a little more comfortable with the putter and knocked a few putts in that kind of matter early in my rounds, and it's going in. That's kind of what's been missing lately."

Moore had a breakthrough season in 2016 that included his victory at the John Deere Classic and spot on the Ryder Cup team, but he hasn't sniffed career win No. 6 since a T-3 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions 16 months ago. Should he keep a clean card this weekend in San Antonio, his chances to end that victory drought appear bright.

"I played some really nice golf yesterday, I just controlled the ball nicely all the way around and was bogey-free yesterday, so thought, 'Let's go try and do that again,'" Moore said. "So to play in tough, windy conditions, to go bogey-free (again), it was some good solid golf."

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Former champ Z. Johnson surges at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 7:31 pm

Midway through his opening round at the Valero Texas Open, Zach Johnson appeared far closer to a missed cut than a spot on the leaderboard.

Johnson initially struggled in the winds at TPC San Antonio, playing his first 13 holes in 3 over. But he eagled No. 14 and closed with three more birdies to post a 2-under 70, then went unconscious during a second-round 65 where he made six birdies over his first 10 holes.

It added up to a 9-under total at the halfway point, and instead of packing his bags the two-time major champ now shares the lead with Ryan Moore.

"You just never know. That's the beauty of this game," Johnson told reporters. "I didn't have anything going putting-wise. I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. Shoot, I made some good pars all while being 3 over. You just never know."

Johnson won this event in both 2008 and 2009, but that was when it was held across town at La Cantera Golf Club. Since the switch to TPC San Antonio in 2010, he has only one top-10 finish and two missed cuts, including last year's early exit with consecutive rounds of 74.

But Friday he played like a man unaware of the venue shift, with four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and a hole-out eagle from the greenside bunker on the par-4 fifth hole. His closing bogey on No. 9 was his first dropped shot in the last 25 holes.

"The confidence is there, and when you can step on the tee with this kind of wind, you trust your clubs and trust your ball, that's pretty important," Johnson said. "I felt good. It was hard, I'm not going to deny that. That was one of the better 27-hole stretches that I've had in a long time."

Johnson's 65 was his first sub-70 score since an opening-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a span of 12 stroke-play rounds. The veteran has made every cut in 11 starts this season, but his T-8 finish at the RSM Classic in November remains his only top-10 finish.

"I felt really good coming into the week," Johnson said. "Confidence was there, it just wasn't showing up on the scorecard."